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View Full Version : ♫ Hey, Mr. DM, put the orc horde down... ♫



AstralFire
2010-11-21, 10:10 AM
♫ I don't wanna get their rabies... ♫

Something interesting I've noticed:

1) We acknowledge that many of the systems we like, up to, including, and especially-but-not-limited-to D&D 3.x are horrendously broken.
2) We acknowledge that many of the systems we like which are not horrendously broken have a limited amount of options, due to not producing insane amounts of poorly-tested feature creep.

Despite this, there's a pretty big reluctance around here, it seems like, to ask your Game Master to give you some sort of minor mechanical feature or trait rather than trying to get it yourself by dancing around a large amount of disparate sources, jam square peg in round hole, utterly cripple your build for no reason, etc. The topic earlier about getting Open Lock as a Scout reminded me of this.

I get the joy of optimization for no (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6684658) good (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=120391) reason, but I do think asking the DM for small tweaks here and there should be a higher part of some people's arsenals than it currently is.

tahu88810
2010-11-21, 10:24 AM
I agree. Most sane DMs would prefer it if, rather than resort to horrendous amounts of cheese to achieve your flavored-goal, you just outright asked them for a homebrewed tweak. If it's something the aforementioned sane DM would say no to, then your uber-cheese behemoth will likely not be allowed anyways.

Reynard
2010-11-21, 10:25 AM
I think that's mostly becuase these forums really only look at RAW when they they give solutions, simply becuase when you add an unpredictable human element (Any DM), things are a lot harder to give advice on.

And I've seen plenty of posts along the lines of "Ask you DM if you can do X to this basic class."

There are guidelines in the DMG for that sort of thing.

CubeB
2010-11-21, 11:19 AM
My DM prefers to just give us traits in exchange for class features or feat slots. He does mess with RAW a bit, but nowhere near the cheese level.

Giving up things like trap sense in exchange for a dragon themed feat package. Way better than cheesing. (It helps that the DM dislikes traps...)

Merk
2010-11-21, 11:23 AM
I do this all the time with the GMs I play with as well as with the players I GM for. One such change that got approved was a paladin trading away medium and heavy armor proficiency, as well as his good fortitude save, for 2 more skill points per level (and more class skills) and a good reflex save. Far, far smoother than the multiclass paladin/rogue mess I first imagined.

AstralFire
2010-11-21, 11:27 AM
I would have thrown in another 2 skills/level, personally.

Psyren
2010-11-21, 11:39 AM
♫ Gaming... lets the people... come togetherrrrrrrr.... ♫

(Sorry, couldn't resist)

Anyway, I think people like having that RAW justification to strengthen their bargaining position.

For instance, the Scout with Open Lock thread's OP could certainly ask his DM "Can you give me Open Lock?" But it's entirely possible his DM might have said "Sure, but it'll cost you a feat." But now, he can point at City of Stormreach and say "Hey, for a feat I could get Open Lock, Bluff and Sleight of Hand with Criminal Background! I don't think just getting Open Lock is worth a feat!" Many DMs could be won over with that sort of reasoning, imo.

tl;dr even if your group disagrees with WotC's estimation of power level, at least knowing what it is can give you a starting point.

AstralFire
2010-11-21, 11:44 AM
That is entirely true, yes. I keep forgetting a lot of people have DMs with... interesting views on balance.

Saph
2010-11-21, 12:07 PM
I do this a lot as a DM.

For one thing, it's often a lot easier just to do a quick swap than it is to look up an obscure or out-of-print sourcebook.

For another, quite often if a player approaches me for something I'll end up giving them a better deal on the trade than if they did it by RAW. This is because the most common reasons my players ask for something is for background/flavour reasons - if you really want the Perform (Whatever) skill I'm not going to charge you anything much.

On the other hand, if a feature is too good or gives extra benefits to an already-powerful class, I'm probably not letting a player take it regardless of whether it's RAW or not.

Boci
2010-11-21, 12:21 PM
I do this a lot as a DM.

For one thing, it's often a lot easier just to do a quick swap than it is to look up an obscure or out-of-print sourcebook.

For another, quite often if a player approaches me for something I'll end up giving them a better deal on the trade than if they did it by RAW. This is because the most common reasons my players ask for something is for background/flavour reasons - if you really want the Perform (Whatever) skill I'm not going to charge you anything much.

On the other hand, if a feature is too good or gives extra benefits to an already-powerful class, I'm probably not letting a player take it regardless of whether it's RAW or not.

Thing is though Saph, you're a good DM, i.e. not the kinda DMs we usually hear about in such threads. Or at least thats what I assume.

J.Gellert
2010-11-21, 12:23 PM
Despite this, there's a pretty big reluctance around here, it seems like, to ask your Game Master to give you some sort of minor mechanical feature or trait rather than trying to get it yourself by dancing around a large amount of disparate sources, jam square peg in round hole, utterly cripple your build for no reason, etc. The topic earlier about getting Open Lock as a Scout reminded me of this.

I used to do this a lot. Start as Wizard, get rid of the silly familiar, then start trading entire spell schools for features, as was done in 2nd Edition AD&D (revised), in the "Player's Options" books.

Or changing the good save to Ref instead of Will, or changing around class skills.

Good stuff.

After a while you get another idea. Why am I even playing D&D? If I'm swapping class features around, wouldn't I have a better time with a point-based system where you can mix and match?

Wouldn't you?

Dienekes
2010-11-21, 12:26 PM
I nearly agree with the OP. You see, I'm not a particularly strong GM. I can only really run campaigns at around the tier 4.5 level of competition. Anything beyond that and I really over or underestimate what I can throw at them.

So when folks ask me for such and such I generally think if it would wreck the balance I'm capable of playing with too much before I ok something. Something like "can my Scout have Open Lock?" my response would generally be: Of course, just trade it in for a skill you aren't going to use, something useless is fine, like Profession or something.

If someone started asking me for Diplomacy and Use Magic Device while already playing a Wizard, I may have to think about it first.

Boci
2010-11-21, 12:28 PM
After a while you get another idea. Why am I even playing D&D? If I'm swapping class features around, wouldn't I have a better time with a point-based system where you can mix and match?

Wouldn't you?

I prefer D&D 3.5 because in my expirience its the most common RPG. This is relevant in my university in Scotland, but really important in Hungary. Trying to find a game there that isn't D&D 3.X or M.A.G.U.S. (a hungarian RPG with quite a few similarities) is next to impossible.

AstralFire
2010-11-21, 12:41 PM
I used to do this a lot. Start as Wizard, get rid of the silly familiar, then start trading entire spell schools for features, as was done in 2nd Edition AD&D (revised), in the "Player's Options" books.

Or changing the good save to Ref instead of Will, or changing around class skills.

Good stuff.

After a while you get another idea. Why am I even playing D&D? If I'm swapping class features around, wouldn't I have a better time with a point-based system where you can mix and match?

Wouldn't you?

Because those other systems don't have players, or I like something in particular about the system I'm in, etc.

The Big Dice
2010-11-21, 01:07 PM
After a while you get another idea. Why am I even playing D&D? If I'm swapping class features around, wouldn't I have a better time with a point-based system where you can mix and match?
This isn't a million miles from the process I went through with D&D. Admittedly I went through that in the late 80s/early 90s and then on to GURPS and then Cyberpunk, but the principle is the same. I went off 3.5 because I was originally told "it's D&D, but new and different" only to realise that it's got all the same problems as older versions of D&D, plus a bunch of new ones all it's own.

Not that I think for one second that there's such a thing as the perfect gaming system. I just think that when you get to a point where you feel you've exhausted all the possibilities and all you're really doing is finding new ways to rehash old ideas, it's time for a different game to come out.

I prefer D&D 3.5 because in my expirience its the most common RPG. This is relevant in my university in Scotland, but really important in Hungary. Trying to find a game there that isn't D&D 3.X or M.A.G.U.S. (a hungarian RPG with quite a few similarities) is next to impossible.
I first got into GURPS because one of the guys at our regular tabletop game said "I've got this game system that lets you play what you want to play instead of what TSR thinks you should play."

If you pay attention to the kind of video games people play, or TV shows and movies they watch, or even what kind of books they read, you might be able to sell them on a game other than D&D. If they like science fiction, there's Star Wars at the soft end and Traveller at the harder end of the spectrum. Maybe they like horror, there's a few different Cthulhu games that can scratch that itch. Maybe they like anime and manga. L5R or Blood and Honour could be worth experimenting with.

If you get your sales pitch right, you might be able to convince people to try something new, even if it's only for a session or two. A change is as good as a rest, after all.

mucat
2010-11-21, 01:16 PM
When I DM, I would vastly prefer that players simply ask for a change they want, instead of presenting some godawful build drawing on a half-dozen barely-compatible sources. If they say "I like the flavor of Mystic Theurge, but it's pretty weak; can we tweak the entry requirements?" then depending on the game's overall power and optimization levels, the answer might be "you're right; it's underpowered for this campaign" or "no; it's actually just as powerful as the other party members."

But if they say "You have to let me into the class early, because I cribbed an early-entry trick from the Internet, relying on the fact that somewhere in the vast pile of books WotC has churned out, someone once wrote a feat without thinking through its implications..." then the answer is automatically no.

golentan
2010-11-21, 01:41 PM
I think that tweaking things with the gm should be, as stated by many here, the first resort. When I run games, I'll approve all sorts of things with a good justification, and most gms I've worked with are much the same.

But it shouldn't be used in a discussion of the rules, because it is a houserule. Always and every time it comes up. And if the question is about houserules, that is not something the community at large can really help with. That's what I see as the reasoning for the phenomenon you see.

In short, I agree with everything you say, but disagree it's a bad thing.

mucat
2010-11-21, 01:53 PM
I think that tweaking things with the gm should be, as stated by many here, the first resort. When I run games, I'll approve all sorts of things with a good justification, and most gms I've worked with are much the same.

But it shouldn't be used in a discussion of the rules, because it is a houserule. Always and every time it comes up. And if the question is about houserules, that is not something the community at large can really help with. That's what I see as the reasoning for the phenomenon you see.

True enough. But that still leaves the question: if the DM says no to a first request, should the player come back with a way to accomplish the same thing with a convoluted builds that a theoretical optimizer came up with (a perfectly valid hobby, by the way) and tell the DM "it's RAW, so I'm going to use it"?

I wouldn't do that as a player, and as a DM, I would consider it a disrespectful move. The player is essentially saying "I know you didn't want this build in the campaign, but I'm going over your head." Thing is, neither the rulebooks nor the Internet optimization boards are over the DM's head. One of the DM's responsibilities is to make sure the PC builds mesh with one another to make the game fun for everyone at the table, and "No, I don't think that build will benefit the game" is always a valid veto on his/her part.

If as a player, I don't trust the DM to make this kind of judgment call, then rather than trying to trump his/her decision, I should be gaming with a DM I do trust.

Thrice Dead Cat
2010-11-21, 03:02 PM
Admittedly, I do this as a DM and it is a good idea, but it doesn't always work. The more likely approach, as is the case on the internet to assume near-RAW if no houserules are given, is to tell the OP who requested X how to do so by RAW or RAMS or RAP or whatever you'll call them.

Sure, some people also throw in "or ask your DM," but sometimes people aren't looking for that answer. I know I like to see if I can do something with the system first. If not - or if its results are too strong/weak/weird/whatever, then I'll ask the DM for assistance.

Just my two copper on it.

Mark Hall
2010-11-21, 03:46 PM
With regards to forum culture, I think the bias towards RAW comes from a couple sources.

1) RAW is what we have in common. I may have ten billion house rules to make characters just like I like them... but we have RAW in common. RAI, of course, we have nothing resembling common ground, because everyone but me is clearly a psychopath out to destroy my fun. :smallbiggrin:

2) We don't know your DM. He may be the guy who insists that anything not written in a WotC-published book is purest heresy. He may be the guy who doesn't care about game balance because he has some wonderful story he wants to share and so will give you anything you ask for. Not knowing your DM, we tend to assume that if he was amenable to being asked, someone would have already.

Personally, I don't have a problem throwing around character changes, and prefer systems that aren't so concerned about balance that they can't absorb that.